4.1 Principles and also Functions of Nonverbal Communication

Learning Objectives

Define nonverbal communication.Compare and contrast verbal communication and also nonverbal communication.Discuss the ethics of nonverbal communication.Provide instances of the attributes of nonverbal communication.

You are watching: Paralanguage includes which of the following elements

As you’ll recall from our introduce chapter, a channel is the sensory path on which a article travels. Oral communication only relies on one channel, because spoken language istransfer v sound and picked increase by ours ears. Nonverbal communication, top top the various other hand, deserve to be taken in through all five of our senses. Since most that our interaction relies top top visual and auditory channels, those will certainly be the emphasis of this chapter. Yet we can additionally receive messages and also generate definition through touch, taste, and also smell. Touch is particularly powerful kind of nonverbal communication that we will comment on in this chapter, yet we will not acquire into taste and smell, which have not got as much scholarly attention in relation to nonverbal communication as the other senses. Come further specify nonverbal communication, we have to distinguish in between vocal and also verbal aspects of communication. Verbal and nonverbal interaction include both vocal and also nonvocal elements, and Table 4.1 “Vocal and also Nonvocal elements of Communication”shows the relationship amongst vocal, nonvocal, verbal, and nonverbal elements of communication. A vocal aspect of verbal communication is spoken words—for example, “Come ago here.” A vocal element of nonverbal communication is paralanguage, i m sorry is the vocalized however not verbal part of a talked message, such as speaking rate, volume, and also pitch. Nonvocal aspects of verbal communication include the usage of unspoken signs to convey meaning. Writing and American sign Language (ASL) room nonvocal instances of linguistic communication and also are not taken into consideration nonverbal communication. Nonvocal elements of nonverbal interaction include body language such as gestures, face expressions, and eye contact. Gestures are nonvocal and nonverbal since most of them perform not describe a certain word prefer a composed or signed prize does.

Table 4.1 Vocal and Nonvocal facets of interaction 166ElementVerbal CommunicationNonverbal Communication
VocalSpoken wordsParalanguage (pitch, volume, speaking rate, etc.)
NonvocalWriting, sign languageBody language (gestures, face expressions, eye contact, etc.)

Source: adjusted from Owen Hargie, expert Interpersonal Interaction: Research, Theory, and also Practice (London:Routledge, 2011), 45.

Principles the Nonverbal Communication

Nonverbal interaction has a distinct history and serves separate evolutionary features from linguistic communication. Because that example, nonverbal communication is primarily biologically based while verbal interaction is mostly culturally based. This is confirmed by the truth that some nonverbal interaction has the same meaning across cultures while no verbal interaction systems re-superstructure that exact same universal recognizability (Andersen, 1999). Nonverbal communication likewise evolved previously than linguistic communication and served an early and crucial survival function that aided humans later build verbal communication. While some of our nonverbal interaction abilities, choose our feeling of smell, lost strength as our verbal capacities increased, other abilities like paralanguage and also movement have actually grown alongside linguistic complexity. The fact that nonverbal interaction is processed by one older part of our brain makes it an ext instinctual and involuntary than verbal communication.

Nonverbal interaction Conveys important Interpersonal and also Emotional Messages

You’ve more than likely heard that more definition is produced from nonverbal interaction than native verbal. Some researches have claimed that 90 percent of our meaning is obtained from nonverbal signals, but more recent and reliable findings insurance claim that it is closer to 65 percent (Guerrero & Floyd, 2006). We might rely much more on nonverbal signals in situations where verbal and nonverbal message conflict and in instances where emotionally or relational interaction is taking place (Hargie, 2011). For example, as soon as someone asks a question and also we’re no sure about the “angle” they room taking, we might hone in ~ above nonverbal cues to to fill in the meaning. Because that example, the question “What room you doing tonight?” might mean any variety of things, but we can rely on posture, tone of voice, and eye call to view if the human being is just curious, suspicious, or hinting that they would certainly like company for the evening. We also put an ext weight ~ above nonverbal interaction when determining a person’s credibility. For example, if a classmate it is provided a decided in class and also her linguistic content seems well-researched and also unbiased, yet her nonverbal interaction is poor (her voice is monotone, she stays clear of eye contact, she fidgets), she will most likely not be viewed as credible. Whereas in some situations, verbal interaction might lug more an interpretation than nonverbal. In interactions where information exchange is the focus, at a briefing in ~ work, because that example, verbal communication likely accounts because that much much more of the an interpretation generated. Regardless of this exception, a vital principle that nonverbal communication is that it often takes ~ above more an interpretation in interpersonal and/or emotional exchanges.

About 65 percent the the an interpretation we derive throughout interactions originates from nonverbal communication.

Gideon – In Perfect Congruence – CC through 2.0.

Nonverbal interaction Is an ext Involuntary than Verbal

There are some instances in which we verbally communicate involuntarily. These species of exclamations are often verbal responses come a how amazing stimulus. For example, we say “owww!” as soon as we stub our toe or scream “stop!” once we check out someone heading towards danger. Involuntary nonverbal signals space much an ext common, and also although many nonverbal communication isn’t totally involuntary, that is much more below our consciousness than verbal communication and also therefore more daunting to control. The involuntary nature of lot nonverbal interaction makes that more an overwhelming to regulate or “fake.” because that example, return you have the right to consciously smile a little and shiver hands v someone when you very first see them, it’s complicated to fake the you’re “happy” to fulfill someone. Nonverbal interaction leaks the end in methods that reveal our underlying think or feelings. Spokespeople, lawyers, or other public representatives who space the “face” that a politician, celebrity, corporation, or company must find out to control their face expressions and other nonverbal interaction so lock can effectively convey the blog post of their employer or client without having actually their an individual thoughts and also feelings leak through. Poker players, therapists, police officers, doctors, teachers, and actors are likewise in professions that regularly require them come have more awareness of and control over your nonverbal communication.

Have you ever tried come conceal her surprise, suppress your anger, or act joyful even when friend weren’t? Most civilization whose careers don’t involve mindful manipulation the nonverbal signals uncover it difficult to regulate or suppress them. While we can consciously decide to avoid sending linguistic messages, our nonverbal communication constantly has the potential of generating an interpretation for one more person. The teenager who decides come shut out his dad and also not communicate with him still sends out a article with his “blank” rigid (still a facial expression) and lack of movement (still a gesture). In this sense, nonverbal interaction is “irrepressible” (Andersen, 1999).

Nonverbal interaction Is an ext Ambiguous

In Chapter 3 “Verbal Communication”, we discover that the symbolic and abstract nature of language can lead come misunderstandings, yet nonverbal communication is even more ambiguous. Just like verbal communication, most of our nonverbal signals deserve to be connected to lot of meanings, however unlike words, numerous nonverbal signals execute not have any kind of one particular meaning. If you’ve ever had who wink at you and also didn’t understand why, you’ve most likely experienced this uncertainty. Did they wink come express their affection because that you, your pleasure v something you simply did, or because you share some inside expertise or joke?

Just together we look in ~ context hints in a sentence or i to derive an interpretation from a details word, we can look for context clues in miscellaneous sources of details like the physics environment, other nonverbal signals, or verbal communication to make feeling of a certain nonverbal cue. Unlike verbal communication, however, nonverbal interaction doesn’t have actually explicit rules of grammar that lug structure, order, and agreed- on patterns of usage. Instead, us implicitly discover norms of nonverbal communication, which leader to better variance. In general, we exhibit more idiosyncrasies in our consumption of nonverbal communication than we carry out with linguistic communication, which likewise increases the faint of nonverbal communication.

Nonverbal communication Is an ext Credible

Although we deserve to rely on verbal communication to fill in the blanks sometimes left by nonverbal expressions, we frequently put an ext trust right into what people do end what lock say. This is especially true in times of tension or danger once our actions become much more instinctual and also we rely on older systems of thinking and acting that evolved before our capability to speak and also write (Andersen, 1999). This innateness create intuitive feelings around the genuineness the nonverbal communication, and this genuineness relates earlier to our earlier discussion around the occasionally involuntary and often subconscious nature that nonverbal communication. An example of the innateness of nonverbal signals can be found in children who have actually been blind because birth however still exhibition the same facial expressions as other children. In short, the involuntary or subconscious nature of nonverbal interaction makes it less easy come fake, which makes it seem an ext honest and credible. We will certainly learn an ext about the role that nonverbal communication plays in deception later in this chapter.

Functions the Nonverbal Communication

A primary duty of nonverbal communication is come convey definition by reinforcing, substituting for, or contradicting linguistic communication. Nonverbal interaction is also used to influence others and also regulate conversational flow. Perhaps even an ext important room the methods in which nonverbal interaction functions as a main part that relational communication and identity expression.

Nonverbal interaction Conveys Meaning

Nonverbal interaction conveys meaning by reinforcing, substituting for, or contradicting linguistic communication. As we’ve currently learned, verbal and nonverbal communication are two components of the same system that often work next by side, helping us generate meaning. In terms of reinforcing verbal communication, gestures can aid describe a an are or form that an additional person is unfamiliar through in methods that indigenous alone cannot. Gestures also reinforce an easy meaning—for example, pointing come the door once you tell who to leave. Facial expressions reinforce the emotional claims we convey with verbal communication. Because that example, laugh while informing a funny story better conveys your emotions (Hargie, 2011). Vocal sports can assist us emphasize a particular part of a message, which helps reinforce a word or sentence’s meaning. Because that example, speak “How was your weekend?” conveys a different an interpretation than “How to be your weekend?”

Nonverbal communication can substitute because that verbal interaction in a selection of ways. Nonverbal interaction can convey much definition when verbal communication isn’t effective due to the fact that of language barriers. Language barriers are current when a human hasn’t yet learned to speak or loses the capability to speak. Because that example, babies who have not yet developed language skills make face expressions, at a few months old, the are comparable to those that adults and also therefore deserve to generate definition (Oster, Hegley, & Nagel, 1992). Civilization who have emerged language an abilities but can’t use them due to the fact that they have temporarily or permanently shed them or since they room using incompatible language codes, favor in some cross-cultural encounters, can still interact nonverbally. Return it’s always a good idea to discover some that the regional language once you travel, gestures such together pointing or demonstrating the size or form of something might suffice in straightforward interactions.

Nonverbal communication is also useful in a quiet case where verbal interaction would be disturbing; for example, you may use a gesture come signal to a friend the you’re ready to leaving the library. Overfilled or loud areas can also impede linguistic communication and lead civilization to rely much more on nonverbal messages. Getting a server or bartender’s attention through a hand gesture is definitely an ext polite 보다 yelling, “Hey you!” Finally, over there are simply times when we recognize it’s far better not to say other aloud. If you desire to allude out a person’s unusual outfit or signal to a friend the you think his or her date is a loser, you’re probably much more likely to carry out that nonverbally. Last, nonverbal interaction can convey meaning by contradicting verbal communication. As we learned earlier, we frequently perceive nonverbal communication to be an ext credible than verbal communication. This is particularly true as soon as we receive blended messages, or message in which verbal and also nonverbal signal contradict every other. Because that example, a person may say, “You can’t execute anything right!” in a typical tone but follow the up with a wink, which can indicate the human being is teasing or joking. Blended messages bring about uncertainty and also confusion on the part of receivers, which leads us to watch for an ext information to shot to determine which message is an ext credible. If we are unable to settle the discrepancy, us are most likely to react negatively and potentially retract from the interaction (Hargie, 2011). Persistent mixed messages can lead to relational distress and hurt a person’s credibility in experienced settings.

We send mixed messages when our verbal and nonverbal communication contradict every other. If this woman said she was excited about seeing you, would you believe her?

Helena Peixoto – bored – CC BY-NC 2.0.

Nonverbal interaction Influences Others

Nonverbal interaction can be offered to influence people in a range of ways, but the most common means is through deception. Deception is frequently thought of together the intentional action of changing information come influence another person, which means that the extends past lying to encompass concealing, omitting, or exaggerating information. When verbal communication is come blame for the contents of the deception, nonverbal communication partners v the language v deceptive acts to be an ext convincing. Since most of united state intuitively believe that nonverbal interaction is much more credible than verbal communication, we frequently intentionally try to regulate our nonverbal interaction when we are engaging in deception. Likewise, we try to evaluate other people’s nonverbal interaction to identify the veracity of your messages. Students at first seem surprised as soon as we talk about the ubiquity of deception, but their surprised diminishes as soon as they realize that deception isn’t always malevolent, mean, or hurtful. Deception clear has an unfavorable connotations, however people engage in deception for plenty of reasons, including to excuse our very own mistakes, to be polite come others, or to affect others’ actions or perceptions.

The reality that deception served critical evolutionary purpose helps explain its prevalence amongst humans today. Varieties that are capable of deception have a higher survival rate. Other animals engage in nonverbal deception the helps them entice mates, hide indigenous predators, and also trap prey (Andersen, 1999). To placed it bluntly, the far better at deception a biology is, the an ext likely it is come survive. So, end time, the human beings that were far better liars were the ones that gained their gene passed on. However the truth that lying play a part in our survival together a varieties doesn’t provide us a patent to lie.

Aside indigenous deception, we have the right to use nonverbal communication to “take the edge off” a an essential or unpleasant post in an attempt to affect the reaction of the other person. Us can likewise use eye contact and proximity to gain someone to move or leaving an area. For example, hungry diners wait to snag a first-come-first-serve table in a crowded restaurant send messages to the world who have currently eaten and paid that it’s time to go. Civilization on competition fact television reflects like Survivor and Big Brother play what they’ve come to term a “social game.” The social facets of the video game involve the manipulation the verbal and also nonverbal cues come send strategy messages about oneself in an attempt to affect others. Nonverbal cues together as size of conversational turn, volume, posture, touch, eye contact, and also choices of clothing and accessories have the right to become part of a player’s social video game strategy. Although fact television isn’t a have fun of genuine life, human being still engage in competition and also strategically adjust their communication to affect others, making it necessary to be conscious of just how we nonverbally affect others and how lock may shot to influence us.

Nonverbal communication Regulates Conversational Flow

Conversational interaction has actually been likened come a dance, wherein each person needs to make moves and take turns without stepping top top the other’s toes. Nonverbal interaction helps us regulate our conversations so us don’t end up continually interrupting each various other or wait in awkward silences between speaker turns. Pitch, i beg your pardon is a component of vocalics, helps united state cue others into our conversational intentions. A increasing pitch commonly indicates a question and a fallout’s pitch indicates the finish of a believed or the finish of a conversational turn. We can additionally use a falling key to indicate closure, which deserve to be an extremely useful in ~ the end of a speech to signal to the audience that you are finished, i beg your pardon cues the applause and also prevents one awkward silence the the speaker end up filling through “That’s it” or “Thank you.” We also signal our rotate is comes to an finish by avoiding hand gestures and shifting our eye contact to the person who us think will speak next (Hargie, 2011). Vice versa, we have the right to “hold the floor” through nonverbal signals also when we’re not precisely sure what we’re going to say next. Repeating a hand gesture or using one or an ext verbal filler can expand our turn also though we room not verbally communicating at the moment.

Nonverbal communication Affects Relationships

To efficiently relate to other people, we have to possess some ability at encoding and decoding nonverbal communication. The nonverbal messages we send and also receive affect our relationship in hopeful and an adverse ways and can work-related to bring people with each other or push them apart. Nonverbal communication in the form of tie signs, immediacy behaviors, and expressions of emotion are just three of many examples that illustrate exactly how nonverbal communication affects ours relationships.

Tie signs are nonverbal cues that interact intimacy and signal the connection between two people. This relational indicators deserve to be objects such as wedding ring or tattoos that are symbolic of one more person or the relationship, actions such together sharing the very same drinking glass, or touch actions such as hand-holding (Afifi & Johnson, 2005). Touch actions are the most commonly studied tie signs and can interact much around a relationship based upon the area being touched, the length of time, and also the intensity of the touch. Kisses and hugs, because that example, are considered tie signs, however a kiss on the cheek is various from a kiss top top the mouth and also a full take on is various from a half embrace. If you think about yourself a “people watcher,” take keep in mind of the miscellaneous tie indicators you see people use and what they could say around the relationship.

Immediacy actions play a main role in bringing people together and have been determined by part scholars as the many important function of nonverbal interaction (Andersen & Andersen, 2005). Immediacy actions are verbal and also nonverbal behaviors that lessen actual or regarded physical and psychological distance in between communicators and include things favor smiling, nodding, do eye contact, and occasionally engaging in social, polite, or professional touch (Comadena, Hunt, & Simonds, 2007). Immediacy habits are a great way of producing rapport, or a friendly and also positive connection between people. Professional nonverbal communicators are an ext likely to have the ability to create rapport through others due to attention-getting expressiveness, warm initial greetings, and an capacity to obtain “in tune” v others, i m sorry conveys empathy (Riggio, 1992). These an abilities are vital to assist initiate and also maintain relationships.

While verbal interaction is our major tool for fixing problems and also providing detailed instructions, nonverbal interaction is our major tool for communicating emotions. This renders sense as soon as we remember the nonverbal interaction emerged prior to verbal communication and also was the channel with which we expressed anger, fear, and also love for thousands of years that human background (Andersen, 1999). Touch and facial expressions space two main ways us express emotions nonverbally. Love is a main emotion that us express nonverbally and also that forms the basis of our close relationships. Back no solitary facial expression for love has been identified, it is expressed through an extensive eye contact, close interpersonal distances, raised touch, and increased time invested together, amongst other things. Given plenty of people’s restricted emotional vocabulary, nonverbal expressions of feeling are main to our relationships.

Nonverbal interaction Expresses our Identities

Nonverbal interaction expresses that we are. Ours identities (the groups to which we belong, our cultures, ours hobbies and interests, etc.) room conveyed nonverbally with the way we set up our living and working spaces, the apparel we wear, the way we lug ourselves, and the accents and also tones of our voices. Our physics bodies offer others impressions around who us are, and also some that these attributes are much more under our manage than others. Height, for example, has actually been presented to influence how human being are treated and also perceived in miscellaneous contexts. Our level of attractiveness likewise influences ours identities and also how human being perceive us. Although we have the right to temporarily alter our height or looks—for example, with various shoes or different color contact lenses—we can only permanently change these attributes using more invasive and also costly measures such as cosmetic surgery. We have much more control over some other facets of nonverbal communication in terms of exactly how we interact our identities. For example, the means we carry and present ourselves with posture, eye contact, and tone that voice have the right to be transformed to existing ourselves as warmth or distant relying on the context.

Aside from our physical body, artifacts, which are the objects and possessions that surround us, additionally communicate our identities. Examples of artefacts include our clothes, jewelry, and room decorations. In every the ahead examples, implicit norms or explicit rules can influence how us nonverbally present ourselves. For example, in a certain workplace it might be a norm (implicit) for civilization in management positions to dress casually, or it might be a rule (explicit) that different levels of employee wear various uniforms or follow certain dress codes. We can additionally use nonverbal interaction to to express identity features that execute not complement up with who we actually think we are. Through alters to nonverbal signals, a capable person can try to appear helpless, a guilty person can try to show up innocent, or an uninformed human being can try to show up credible.

Key Takeaways

Nonverbal communication is a procedure of generating meaning using habits other than words. Nonverbal communication includes vocal elements, i beg your pardon is described as paralanguage and includes pitch, volume, and rate, and nonvocal elements, which room usually referred to as body language and has gestures, facial expressions, and eye contact, amongst other things.Although linguistic communication and also nonverbal interaction work next by side as part of a bigger language system, there room some essential differences in between the two. They are processed by various hemispheres of the brain, nonverbal interaction conveys an ext emotional and affective definition than does linguistic communication, nonverbal interaction isn’t governed by an explicit device of rule in the same method that grammar guides linguistic communication, and also while verbal communication is a uniquely human ability, countless creatures including plants, birds, and mammals communicate nonverbally.Nonverbal interaction operates top top the following principles: nonverbal communication frequently conveys more meaning than linguistic communication, nonverbal communication is an ext involuntary 보다 verbal communication, nonverbal communication is often an ext ambiguous than verbal communication, and nonverbal communication is often more credible than verbal communication.Nonverbal communication serves several functions.Nonverbal communication affects verbal interaction in the it deserve to complement, reinforce, substitute, or contradict linguistic messages.Nonverbal interaction influences others, together it is a key component the deception and can be used to assert supremacy or to interact in compliance gaining.Nonverbal communication regulates conversational flow, as it provides crucial cues that signal the beginning and also end that conversational turns and also facilitates the beginning and end of an interaction.Nonverbal interaction affects relationships, as it is a primary way through which we connect emotions, develop social bonds, and engage in relational maintenance.Nonverbal communication expresses our identities, as who we room is conveyed through the way we set up our living and working spaces, the clothes we wear, our an individual presentation, and the tones in our voices.


Afifi, W. A. And Michelle L. Johnson, “The Nature and role of Tie-Signs,” in The Sourcebook of Nonverbal Measures: Going beyond Words, ed. Valerie Manusov (Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 2005): 190.

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Comadena, M. E., Stephen K. Hunt, and also Cheri J. Simonds, “The impacts of Teacher Clarity, Nonverbal Immediacy, and also Caring on student Motivation, Affective and Cognitive Learning,” Communication research study Reports 24, no. 3 (2007): 241.

Hargie, O., Skilled Interpersonal Interaction: Research, Theory, and also Practice, fifth ed. (London: Routledge, 2011), 47.

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Riggio, R. E., “Social Interaction skills and Nonverbal Behavior,” in Applications the Nonverbal behavior Theories and also Research, ed. Robert S. Feldman (Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1992), 12.